Jay Ferguson

All Alone in the End Zone

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This is the debut solo effort from ex-Spirit/Jo Jo Gunne vocalist and occasional keyboard player Jay Ferguson. When left to his own devices, Ferguson steps away from the somewhat formulaic hard-rocking boogie of Jo Jo Gunne, developing a more concurrent 1970s California-bred sunshine pop and pre-disco vibe. Who better to corral All Alone in the End Zone (1975) than Jo Jo Gunne's former producer, Bill Szymczyk, who gathered some of the mid-'70s most sought-after session performers -- including Joe Walsh (guitar/backing vocals), Joe Vitale (drums), George "Chocolate" Perry (bass), and Joey Murcia (guitar). As an ensemble they give the material a lift as well as provide an added bite to Ferguson's originals and the effort's sole cover of Traffic's "Medicated Goo." Both the opener, "Snakes on the Run," and the title track, "All Alone in the End Zone," are personal and seemingly liberating musical statements. The former is an uptempo four-on-the-floor groover that deals with the hassles and runaround inherent in "the biz," while the latter is a midtempo point-of-view rocker that directly refers back to Ferguson's earlier band(s) throughout the song -- most notably in the opening lines "Uncle Jack he said get on back" as well as "But I jumped the Gunne/Tried to run, run, run." "To the Island" contains definite projections of Ferguson's major hit "Thunder Island," from the prominent acoustic guitar to the tricky syncopation that propels the verses into a tropically flavored shuffle. As he did with the James Gang, Barnstorm, and ultimately the Eagles, Walsh's trademark slide and extended guitar phrasings go a long way in enhancing the strength of the rockers as well as the ballad "Everybody Goes from Here." Although All Alone in the End Zone did not spawn a hit single, it did establish Jay Ferguson away from the name recognition of his previous associations, priming him for the follow-up smash Thunder Island (1978).

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